Wisconsin Republican Bill Would Let High School Dropouts Teach In Public Schools

It looks like the Wisconsin GOP is hell-bent on making their state dead last in education now.

In a stunning disregard for who teaches our children, Wisconsin Republicans have proposed a rule change that would allow high school dropouts to become licensed teachers without finishing a teacher certification program or obtaining a bachelor’s degree. All they have to do is get hired by the school, essentially placing teacher certification in the hands of districts instead of the state.

Wisconsin Republicans are poised to weaken public education across the state with a new rule that the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction says would force them to “issue a teaching permit for individuals who have not earned a bachelor’s degree, or potentially a high school diploma, to teach in any subject area, excluding the core subjects of mathematics, English, science, and social studies.”

In addition, anyone with a bachelor’s degree without any formal teacher training would also be able to get a license as well and the state would be prohibited from placing requirements such as background checks on school staff.

Basically, the new rule would shred Wisconsin’s current teaching standards.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,

Wisconsin offers two main avenues to become a licensed teacher. Candidates can complete a degree in education and other requirements, then be recommended for a state license by their college or university. Alternative teacher training programs are geared toward people who already have bachelor’s degrees. These programs often allow people to teach on temporary licenses in high-needs areas while they complete training and other requirements for a full-fledged state license.

The provision was quietly added in the dead of night at 1:30am last week by state GOP Rep. Mary Czaja to a K-12 education budget package that the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee prepared to vote on.

Czaja claims that the purpose of her rule change is to help rural schools fill needed positions more easily.

“The districts are going to be the ones that hire these people, and I firmly believe that they’re not going to throw somebody in there that isn’t doing a good job,” she told the Journal Sentinel.

But the paper notes that Czaja couldn’t name a single district that had requested such a thing.

In fact, the Wisconsin Rural School Alliance is very troubled by the proposal. Executive director Jerry Fiene said “This totally destroys any licensure requirements that we have in Wisconsin. It’s very concerning.”

Additionally, other education leaders around the state have roundly criticized the measure as harmful to children.

State Superintendent Tony Evers told Wisconsin Public Television that the bill is “breathtaking in its stupidity” and explained how such a measure creates the potential for risky hires by schools.

“It essentially takes the licensing system out of the state’s hands and puts it in 424 school districts’ hands. If you’re a buddy of the superintendent or the principal, you go in and say, ‘Gosh, I want to teach here,’ he or she says yes, you’ve got a license.”

Without background check measures, the potential of hiring someone who should not be allowed anywhere near children becomes a real point of concern. But at the moment, the quality of education is the main focus.

State teachers union spokesperson Christina Brey said that “Children all across the state deserve to have teachers who have proven they can do the job.”

And this bill allows the schools to hire people who haven’t earned the job.

The bottom line is that allowing just anyone to teach a classroom full of students is irresponsible and shows just how little Republicans care about educating our kids.

Wisconsin Republicans have already tanked the state’s economy ranking, and now they apparently want to tank their education ranking as well. So if the people of Wisconsin actually had any hope that things would improve in their state, they were sorely mistaken as it looks like things will only get worse for years to come.

Featured image via childrensadvocate.org